June 7, 2012- Authorities descended on an airport in Puerto Rico on Wednesday and arrested 36 people in a crackdown on the trafficking of drugs. Law enforcement officials said the trafficking ring was smuggling large amounts of cocaine from the island to the U.S. via passenger flights.
A United States Drug Enforcement Administration agent said the 36 arrested included 22 picked up at the San Juan International Airport out of 45 who had been indicted for the smuggling of over 30 tons of cocaine from the U.S. territory to the U.S. mainland via commercial flights since 1999.
A spokesperson for the Caribbean division of the DEA said the bust was an important hit to the cartel in the area. The airport in Puerto Rico is constantly sought out by dealers of contraband because it acts as a midpoint between countries in South America and the U.S. and is an easy entry point.
The majority of the drugs were smuggled through the Luis Munoz Marin Airport located in San Juan on flights to Florida, New York and New Jersey on American Airlines. The suspects used a bathroom within the airport to exchange the cocaine to couriers who then boarded the flights bound for the U.S.
Also involved were cargo handlers who made sure that suit cases filled with drugs were put on U.S. bound aircraft said the DEA. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the U.S. with close to 4 million people. It has for a long time been considered a transhipment point in smuggling illicit drugs from South America to the States.